There are so many books and movies and apps based on finding that perfect person. We are a society of secret romantics who want nothing more than our own happily ever after. And among all those meet cutes and swipe rights, there are a few stories about someone else finding your soulmate on your behalf. Whether it is parents arranging a marriage, or a busy business man delegating the search, or just a really nosy friend who wants you to find love it all comes down to one thing: matchmaking. And have you ever wondered what it would be like to try out a matchmaker yourself?
There is a place in Ireland called Lisdoonvarna that has an annual matchmaking festival and I knew I wanted to meet the famous local matchmaker. I wasn’t able to get time off from work last year and this year I’ll be flying home just as the festival kicks off, so I decided to take a quick weekend trip there instead.
I had sent an email to the matchmaker, but it seems he is not so great with technology as I did not get a reply. I had waited a few days but, because my time was running out to make plans, I ended up giving him a ring… and that was one of the strangest phone conversations of my life.
At first the call was connected but no one said anything, I just heard talking in the background. Then after I finally spoke into the silence I got a “What’s this in relation to?” Not exactly the greeting I was expecting. I wasn’t even sure who I was talking to at first! Once I finally explained I was hoping to make an appointment and travel to see the matchmaker, Mr Mm said he’d be around and to give him another call when I arrived to town.
The matchmaker then passed the phone on to a gent (with blue eyes so the guy said) who was also looking to be matched. Talk about awkward. That guy eventually passed me back to Mr Mm who wanted to get my name but was having the hardest time hearing me, so I was handed over to a lass with a lighter accent and thus easier to converse with. She took down my information and then passed me back to Mr Mm to say our goodbyes.
You may not realize this, but the Irish have a terrible time finishing phone calls. There is not a simple end, but the talking around the end or even their repeating “bye bye bye bye bye” until you finally just hit the hang-up button yourself. With the matchmaker, he’s the type you have to interrupt and end the call because who knows how long it will take for him to do it.
I was given to understand that the matchmaker had an “office” in the Matchmaker Bar. Yet when I rang after arriving in Lisdoonvarna, he wanted me to take a taxi to his farm and matchmaking museum. Now if I had not been travelling alone I may have gone, but I was well taught in “stranger danger” and you just don’t go to a random man’s house in the middle the countryside by yourself. I asked to meet in town instead and he suggested a hotel lobby.
Like most Irishmen he was late, and then got chatting with a variety of people (some of which worked at the hotel, so I knew he was a frequent visitor). I don’t know if the matchmaker thinks he is a charmer, but he complimented every single female who came in his path to the point it felt insincere. He also tends to collect people and was trying to convince everyone to use his services. He even got this poor elderly gentleman to come to my appointment to chat. It was uncomfortable, but before long the man said his dinner was probably ready and he was going to go.
I knew there would be a questionnaire to fill out, and had even asked for it in advance, but didn’t get it until this point. Rather than allowing me to fill it out thoughtfully, the matchmaker kept talking and expecting my attention. I found it hard to concentrate despite the questions not being all that in-depth. It basically asked for my name, my birthday, my contact information, my hobbies and interests, and what I want in a significant other. That’s it.
Upon completion I presumed we would then discuss my answers or even the whole process of matchmaking and what would happen next. Instead, he continued talking about himself –his divorce and his children who have basically all separated from their own significant others. He even told me that having kids is more important and fulfilling than a loving relationship with a spouse. Maybe he was trying to convince himself, because I found this to not be a great marketing scheme when trying to sell matchmaking services.
I honestly thought a matchmaker would take their time to find the right person(s), and then tell me a bit about them before asking if I wanted my contact information passed over to the potentials. I thought I might get a name or two over the course of a few months. Mr Mm had been quoted saying “I’m certain the old way of matchmaking is far better than any computer. The best part of it is when I introduce a couple for the first time. I’ll sit down with them, introduce them and maybe have a cup of tea. I’m there to stop any awkward moments and I can usually see straight away if there’s a spark there and if it’s going to work out.”
I should have known better after my initial meeting and changed my expectations. Despite being told he would start trying to fix me up with someone by week’s end, I didn’t really believe it. Imagine my surprise when two days later I started getting calls and texts and whatsapp messages from random guys. But from one of the “matches” I have discovered my name has merely been put on a list given to males of the right general age and they are told to contact who they wish. They have no information other than my name, which is actually more than I have because most of the texters aren’t leaving theirs on the messages.
Honestly, right now I think I would have better luck on a dating app and that kind of says something about how this process is going. At this point, not one of them have a chance of my agreeing to meet them. Poor conversational skills, poor grammar, and there is no personal touch like was promised. Isn’t the whole point of using a matchmaker being human interaction rather than everything done through technology?
Thankfully, I went into this experience more for the craic and to check off something on my bucket list than actually expecting him to make a proper love match. (Hoped, sure, but not expected). From what I gather, no one in town actually takes him seriously and my so-called appointment with him left a bit to be desired. I did get my picture taken with the “magic” book of matches at least!
Despite it all, I had a wonderfully relaxing weekend, I have been recommended a novel set in Lisdoonvarna, and I’ve been brainstorming a couple plot ideas for a story centred on a matchmaker. It is kind of a tossup whether I want to use a little my current personal experience and make it more chick lit or to just make up everything up so it’s a romantic scenario with a happily ever after.
What do you think about my experience with a matchmaker? Have you ever met one and had a different experience? Tell me in the comments!